Author: Oh Tae-seok
Arts and Science, Pre-Commerce (University of Virginia)
As I left the building at twilight and strode back home, autumn’s first rain started to pour down on the roofless arcade. The rain thickened, blurring the familiar shop signs and brick passageway. Checking to see my path, I nudged my umbrella up to glimpse ahead. Barely had my eyes been uncovered, when something totally unexpected captured my sight. A white figure, saturated by the heavy rain, lay in the middle of the arcade. It was lying dead still. The neglectful by-passers, under their tightly held umbrellas, heedlessly walked around the body as if it were an obstacle. When I had reached the slim “stick” figure, however, I was appalled. This was no mannequin; it was a young man, possibly in his early thirties, lying on his back, drenched to his bones.
His blue lips and pale face clearly indicated that he had been there for hours. “Excuse me”, I spoke but no answer came. “Excuse me, can you hear me?” I uttered amidst the roar of the heavy rain. The man was silent. As I crouched down to get closer, he slowly opened his eyes blankly. In a lifeless tone, he spoke. “I’m trying to die ? die of hypothermia.”
I was at first baffled, not knowing what to say. “You will get no more than a nasty cold, sir.” I awkwardly replied trying to start a conversation. The man sighed, and slowly breathed out sentence from sentence, “My firm went broke yesterday; I have no future. I have nothing, nothing… I appreciate your kindness, but please leave me alone.” He closed his eyes.
I got up and strode away ? not to home, but to a coffee shop few blocks away. Before sensing the warmth of the store, I swiftly took out some silver coins and bought a cup of hot chocolate. I paced back to the man, swerving through the few people of the dim-lit arcade. The rain was still gushing relentlessly. When my last step lightly splashed the water near him, he feebly opened his eyes. He looked at me, then at the cup.
He stood up, stiffly managing to move his joints, and then slowly walked to a nearby bench and sat down, his back curved and shoulders sagged. Tears seemed to trickle from his eyes, while the rain flooded his face. No words passed between us. A few minutes later with much silence and more rain, I finally wished him luck, and we parted to our separate lives. After a long melancholy walk back home, I entered my room, feeling the world of isolation, egotism, and despair. Yet I could not but long for hope for the man, and for the society. With mixed swirls in my mind, I glimpsed out the window ? the rain had stopped.
<저작권자 © 동국포스트, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>